Following my discussions with Inverclyde Council, I was delighted that they agreed to facilitate a forum last week on improving access to transport in Inverclyde.
The forum was well attended by councillors from across the political divide, as well as the key transport agencies including Transport Scotland, SPT, FirstGroup and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Audit Scotland - the country’s public spending watchdog – has said that users of health and care services are losing out, because of a lack of joined up thinking between the various transport agencies.
My casework will confirm that it results in missed appointments, longer journeys, longer waits to be discharged from hospital to home, and financial hardship for families visiting loved ones at hospitals in Paisley and Glasgow.
But the impact goes beyond that of health and social care. It also makes it more difficult for people to access business, employment, further education and leisure services.
This has wider implications in terms of Inverclyde’s population levels. If people don’t have readily available access to services, and if their day-to-day living is made harder because of the gaps in our public transport system, it gives them less incentive to stay here.
The workshop recognised the progress and significant investment in infrastructure locally, including the new bus stations, buses and raised curbs.
But importantly, it was also recognised that there are gaps in the service and that improvements could be made.
With the key agencies working together, I am confident we can maximise the resource and potential we have in Inverclyde to address this issue.
I look forward to future action to ensure we have accessible, available and affordable public transport for the benefit of those who are being excluded and the well-being of Inverclyde’s economy.